I'll be travelling to Hanoi and Halong Bay with my frends this coming May, most likely for a week and then off to Laos ( Vietiane and Luang Prabang?) with my partner for another week. Got a couple of queries.
1) How to get to Halong Bay from Hanoi ---- I'm assuming we can prob get bus tickets somewhere? It's about a 3 hour plus ride from what i read online. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
2) 3 days for Hanoi and 3 days for Halong Bay, with 1 day set aside for travelling ---- possible?
3) How to get from Vietnam to Laos ----** this is my main query, couldn't really get a proper answer online or from LP's SEA on a shoestring. As a singaporean, will I be facing any visa problems?
4) Is it more convenient to get to Vietiane from Udon Thani as compared to getting to Vietiane from Halong Bay/ Hanoi ? ---- (If i'm not wrong Udon Thani is somewhere in Northern Thailand) The confusing thing is that Tiger Airways, a budget airline operating from Singapore which flies to Hanoi and Udon Thani, indicates on the airline website that it flies to "UDON THANI (VIETIANE)", that's right, with Vietiane in brackets. Hence, I'm a little puzzled...
5) 3 days in Vietiane and 3 days in Luang Prabang and how do I get from one place to another---- possible?
6) Lastly, any great guesthouses/ sight-seeing places to recommend in all the above places? I was staying at Two Gragons Guesthouse in Siem Reap and the rooms are amazingly clean. I think the owner has another guesthouse in Laos... gotta check that out.
Sadly, I've only got 2 weeks to spare for both places... I appreciate any form of advice/help and many thanks in advance everyone!! :)
#1 eklecticist has been a member since 17/5/2006. Posts: 6
Whew, that's a lot of questions for a Sunday morning ;-)
1) There's both tourist minibuses and regular buses that regularly ply the route. The trips takes about 3 hours.
2) 3 days in each is fine -- though bear in mind you're required to "do" Ha Long Bay on a tour so it's not the kind of place you can easily explore on your own. The majority of visitors do 2-3 day tours out of Hanoi to ha Long.
3) There's a number of border crossings you can take, or you can fly to either Vientiane or Luang Prabang with Lao Airlines. For border crossing info, please see the Border Crossing FAQ -- all the info is in there.
4) That's a typical budget airline runaround. Udon Thani is the closest Thai town to the Lao border. You land there then it is an hour (or so) by bus to the border, then cross and another 30 minutes to Vientiane. Still it's a lot closer to Vientiane than Hanoi!
5) I'd lean towards recommending 2 days in Vientiane and 4 in Luang Prabang... There are frequent bus connections between the two, or you can fly.
6) AFAIK Gordon doesn't have a second guesthouse in Laos -- see the relevant sections within the site for tons of guesthouse recommendations -- also the Trip Reports has some handy information.
If you've only got two weeks, I'd suggest flying between Vietnam and Laos, as the overland trip can be very time consuming.
Hope that helps and have fun!